| Global Times | 2012-10-16 0:20:04
By Global Times
Retired Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk died in Beijing early Monday morning at the age of 90. Sihanouk was one of China's closest friends. He reminded us of the close relations between the two countries and provided enlightenment on the future of China's diplomacy.
Chinese society is more familiar with "Prince Sihanouk." His government was overthrown by a US-instigated coup in 1970 because of his persistence in adhering to neutral diplomacy, and his refusal to join the US-dominated Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty. China accepted him at his most difficult time.
It was a high-profile action by China's anti-hegemonic diplomacy. Some Web users think that China's investment into Cambodia is a poor decision. This argument itself is small-minded and populist. These views are totally incompatible with China's fundamental interests.
Cambodia has supported China against moves by Vietnam and the Philippines to make the South China Sea a topic of discussion at ASEAN meetings. This supportive stance was in large part due to China's actions regarding Sihanouk.
China's acceptance of Sihanouk was made in consideration of the national interest; however, it also shined with the brilliance of morality. This action left a deep impression on Southeast Asian countries and Third World countries.
Looking around the world, China has too few friends like Sihanouk. We have too many scruples regarding Western diplomatic actions. We rarely have the opportunity to express China's values and developing countries' common moral principles. Of course, China has come a long way from the maverick country in the 1970s that was at odds with both the US and the Soviet Union. It has deeply integrated itself into world systems, upholding a cautious and balanced approach to diplomacy. The era in which Tiananmen Square hosted an anti-US rally to welcome Sihanouk is forever gone.
Global integration doesn't mean the abandonment of the things that make China different. The conflict of interest with Western powers is bound to emerge no matter how China tries to downplay them. We need more real friends in the developing world, such as Pakistan.
China is an open country today. But the memory of Sihanouk's time is still meaningful to us. The friendship with him should still be cherished. Now that China is on a much broader diplomatic stage, it is important that China maintains a brave but balanced stance.
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